Caption: Back, from the left, Graeme Stewart (HORIBA MIRA), Damian Pearce (UK Battery Industrialisation Centre), Dr Marc Henry (MTC), Prof Rohit Bhagat (Coventry University), Stuart Bage (GE Power Conversion). Front, from the left, Steve Doyle (EVera Recruitment), Dr Benjamin Silverstone (WMG, University of Warwick), Cllr Jim O’Boyle (Coventry City Council), Marion Plant (CWLEP), Cllr Kam Kaur (Warwickshire County Council), Vicki Mills (Potenza CNH).

Coventry and Warwickshire should look at the skills shortage to help deliver the net zero vehicle revolution not as a problem but a challenge it can meet, a major event heard.

The Future of Vehicle Electrification Skills Summit was organised by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council at the MIRA Technology Institute in Nuneaton.

Around 50 delegates heard from a wide range of speakers who explored the huge change electrification is bringing to the vehicle industry, heard insights into the skills needs of a rapidly-evolving industry and was told how the region can be a leader in the field.

Electrification is a key focus of CWLEP in its Strategic Reset Framework which is committed to green recovery, embracing innovative low carbon technologies and driving forward as the region’s lead on the country’s electrification revolution.

Dr Benjamin Silverstone, Assistant Professor at WMG, University of Warwick, and lead for the National Electrification Skills Framework, was among the keynote speakers along with Steve Doyle, CEO of EVera Recruitment, STEM Ambassador and Advisory Board Member to University of Warwick for its Apprentice Battery Degree.

Dr Silverstone said Coventry and Warwickshire was ideally placed with its rich heritage and global reputation in the automotive industry to be a trail-blazer in vehicle electrification.

He said: “We have to view this as a challenge – and one we can rise to. We need to inspire younger people to view this as a stimulating and rewarding career, rather than a job that helps us solve a problem.

“I would much rather people did not use the word “problem” in talking about skills. A whole new world – in a sector in which we have great strengths – is opening up and we need to be in a a position to capitalise. That is an opportunity.”

CWLEP board directors Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration, and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, and Cllr Kam Kaur, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place at Warwickshire County Council, also addressed the audience.

Marion Plant, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College and chair of CWLEP’s Productivity and Skills Business Group, who was also a keynote speaker, said she was confident businesses based in Coventry and Warwickshire would rise to the challenge of re-training and upskilling their staff.

She said: “It was a really thought-provoking and interesting event focused on the Future of Vehicle Electrification.

“We need to make sure people are equipped with the skills needed to drive forward the green revolution and that includes universities and Further Education colleges to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians to deliver the electrification revolution.

“One of the great strengths of our area has been our partnership-approach which has been led by CWLEP and that is going to be really important in meeting the challenges of electrification with a collaborative approach to deliver the skills which the sector requires not only now but in the medium and long-term.

“A perfect example of the need to train and upskill staff is the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre which has been developed to support UK industry with the development of battery technologies for future electrification.

“We are at the prototype stage of Very Light Rail in Coventry and a West Midlands Gigafactory in Coventry would present a variety of great opportunities.

“These projects showcase the difference Coventry and Warwickshire is making to the government’s electrification and net zero targets which is why it is imperative we build a skills eco-system for zero carbon vehicles, vehicle electrification and battery technology.”

Dr Soroush Faramehr, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering Centre for E-Mobility Research at Coventry University, and Richard Stocker, Energy Systems Innovation Lead at HORIBA MIRA discussed the key opportunities for young people starting their careers in the future during the Early Careers Panel session.